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Local opinion columnists

Get it straight in Ferguson

By From page A11 | August 22, 2014

Years ago, many letters to the editor in various Bay Area newspapers began with the same phrase: “Let me get this straight,” after which the letter writer would tell us what had gotten him – usually – so upset. The focus was often on the newspaper itself, rather than a perceived injustice in the “real” world.

But, maybe for the first time, I think, “let me get this straight” is appropriate. This came to mind within hours of the shooting of Michael Brown.

The evening of the shooting, we “learned” that Michael Brown was a “college-bound” young man just minding his own business as he strolled down the street – not the sidewalk – in the business district of Ferguson, Missouri. It was only days later that we saw the video of Brown stealing a box of cigarillos, and then pushing the shopkeeper who tried to confront him as he left the store with his stolen goods. Then, that night, the “protestors” took to the street, and you know the rest.

I hadn’t seen much about individuals in the crowd of looters and protestors, but Thursday’s New York Times had an illuminating interview with 21-year-old Qua Calhoun, who has been out on the streets every night. Calhoun began by saying that the “looting and fighting with the police is all necessary,” as the Times reporter wrote. Then, perhaps the most chilling remark: “Just imagine if the dude gets found not guilty . . . It’s going to be way more than looting going on.”

Yes, I believe that most of the protestors were angry, not violent, but those males in front of the onrushing crowd wore the same “uniform”: Bare chest, saggers, a bandana and many had their faces covered with a bandana or perhaps a surgical mask.

There was much more attention in the media paid to the victim rather than the life of a police officer in the predominately black community of Ferguson. Would any in the media who portrayed the “innocence” of the “college-bound” victim want to have the job of Officer Darren Wilson? What would your reaction be if you were charged by someone of Brown’s size and bulk?

Then the scene shifts from the streets of Ferguson to the comments of some politicians. The most egregious may well have been from the Democratic governor of Missouri, Jay Nixon, who called for a “vigorous prosecution” of Officer Wilson. Nixon insisted on the prosecution even before the grand jury had done its work.

I wonder whether our unbiased, impartial, even-handed Attorney General Eric Holder is going to demand that officials, such as himself, at the national, state and local level withhold judgment until we hear from the grand jury.

Yeah, I bet.

Bud Stevenson, a retired stockbroker, lives in Fairfield. Reach him at [email protected]

Bud Stevenson

Bud Stevenson


Discussion | 14 comments

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  • PornacAugust 22, 2014 - 7:03 am

    I shot six times cause I felt threatened. I had to kill him, right.

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  • JAGAugust 22, 2014 - 6:15 pm

    Thanks for waiting for the facts Pornac

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  • LarryAugust 22, 2014 - 9:40 am

    I have to remind myself that your comment is only your opinion coming from a privilege person.

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  • CD BrooksAugust 22, 2014 - 9:53 am

    The citizens of that town want nothing less than a full indictment of officer Wilson. Guilty is the only verdict they will accept and Nixon fell right into lock step. Wilson will be the fall-guy to "save" Ferguson, his guilt or innocence notwithstanding.

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  • rlw895August 22, 2014 - 10:39 am

    This incident is testing our system, to be sure. There will be heroes and villains and a scale in between. It remains to be seen where people fall. Holder is looking good. Nixon not so much.

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  • JimboAugust 22, 2014 - 11:08 am

    It is not 'right' anywhere, PERIOD to execute a suspect for petty theft by vigilante cop gun. Vigilantism by cop is not justice. And how many of you think it takes 6 bullets to stop a person with no weapon? That cop emptied his gun on that kid. If he is so scared that he can not perform his job without murder than he is in the wrong field. So blame the people of color, right bigots?

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  • rlw895August 22, 2014 - 5:59 pm

    J: The only explanation is the kid turned and charged the cop. And that's the story that emerged early from the cop's side. I can believe a police handgun cannot stop a 6-4 300 pound man hurdling toward unless one of the shots is fatal or close to it. We'll have to wait to get the evidence.

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  • JimboAugust 22, 2014 - 11:11 am

    Larry why should Eric Holder 'withhold judgment until we hear from the grand jury' when armchair quarterback Bud has it all figured out and determined his own 'truth'?

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  • HeeHawAugust 22, 2014 - 12:08 pm

    Poor ol' Jimbo doesn't know the difference between a columnist in the local fish wrapper and the chief law enforcement officer in the nation. There is a difference, Jimbo, and more than a "smidgen."

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  • A Different PerspectiveAugust 22, 2014 - 6:10 pm

    Hee Haw, exactly what I was going to say. Only you did it much more eloquently.

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  • Mr. SmithAugust 22, 2014 - 11:14 am

    You can bet those punks with no shirts, saggers and bandanas want nothing any more than they want a "not guilty" verdict or even better a "justified shooting." They can't wait for the sequel to " Burn, Baby Burn!"

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  • rlw895August 22, 2014 - 12:03 pm

    Very likely. As to how far they get, that depends on the rest of us. I believe "justified shooting" could come from the grand jury. That will take weeks. "Not guilty" implies a trial, and that could take months. Then there is the federal civil rights investigation and potential trial. It's all going to take time, which is good for a fair outcome.

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  • truth'nAugust 22, 2014 - 4:24 pm

    Apparently Lynch Mobs are bad only if they are "white".

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  • rlw895August 22, 2014 - 6:01 pm

    No, but they've been far more common in the US.

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